Can I Grill with Used Charcoal Briquettes to Save Money?

old charcoal briquettes

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I have received a number of questions from readers of this website about whether or not they can grill with used charcoal briquettes to save some money. Well, to be totally honest, the answer is YES!

In this day and age, being able to conserve on anything, charcoal briquettes included, is the smart thing to do. Obviously, those briquettes need to be dry to reuse them so in my charcoal grill accessories article I stress the fact that I always use a Weber grill cover on all of my Weber grills and it also fits perfectly on my Brinkmann smoker.

Check out my youTube video with more details or continue on to see some images that shows you the steps involved in reusing old charcoal briquettes.

Chances are if you are going to reuse old charcoal, you're simply not going to be able to have enough of them for the next time that you want to use your grill. So, what I do (and is depicted below in images) is to sandwich my used charcoal briquettes in between some fresh charcoal. Check out the images below to see how I reuse my used charcoal briquettes.

Reusing Old Charcoal Briquettes

(Click on any of the images below for a larger view)

Leftover briquettes
Leftover briquettes
Filling the chimney starter
Filling the chimney starter
Sandwiching the old briquettes with new
Sandwiching the old briquettes with new
Ensure they are large enough
Ensure they are large enough
Adding the old charcoal
Adding the old charcoal
Ready to roll!
Ready to roll!

One of the best things about charcoal grilling is being able to reuse charcoal that you used from a previous grilling session. I know that this article may seem obvious to many of you but you might be surprised at how many people throw away old charcoal and end up spending a lot more money than the rest of us when it comes to grilling with charcoal.

Please remember that you can always ask questions in the comments or send them to me using my Contact Me page. You'd be surprised how many people send me questions using this page. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend and happy grilling to all of you!

12 thoughts on “Can I Grill with Used Charcoal Briquettes to Save Money?”

  1. Great idea to reuse the charcoal. Does seem obvious now that you made me think about it, but I usually just empty my little Weber before starting my next grill session. What a waste! I’ll try it this weekend. Thanks Bob!

    Reply
    • Hi Todd,
      Sorry I missed your comment. Yes, more often than not I fill about 1/2 of my chimney starter with formerly-used charcoal. Why waste your money? Glad I could help Todd!

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply
  2. Just found this site and enjoy reading it. My question is which is better ..briquettes or lump. I have read that briquettes are put together using glues which can affect the taste. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your question! I typically use Kingsford charcoal briquettes which definitely do not emit any odors or negative taste to the food I am grilling. I am a big fan of lump charcoal as well but they do burn really hot but not as long as the Kingsford briquettes. I use both but I use the briquettes more often! Happy 4th and keep on grilling!

      Please check out my youtube channel as well.

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply
  3. Bob

    I have been using my briquettes over for quite some time now. I get them by shutting all the vents on my Weber Kettle grill when I’m done grilling. I let them go out and collect them next time I’m going to grill. I will store them in an old briquette bag-just make sure they really are out!

    One thing I have noticed when relighting them in the charcoal chimney: It takes much longer to get a fully lit chimney when it contains used briquettes. I am thinking it is caused by a reduced flow of air through the coals due to the tighter packing of the smaller used briquettes. I will often add more paper under the lit chimney when having a mixture of used and new briquettes-this helps getting a faster light. Mixing the two sizes evenly may help a lot. I have not tried this yet.

    I have started just adding lit full sized coals on top of unlit used coals. This works.

    Reply
    • Hi Jerry,
      I was going through some older comments and noticed I hadn’t responded to you on this question. I am sooo sorry as I try to respond within a day. I think you’re right that with used charcoal they may take longer to light but I always mix with new charcoal because I never have enough used charcoal for the chimney starter. Yes, tighter packing of the older charcoal could be causing the lack of airflow as you mentioned. When I smoke meats in my smoker I always lay unlit charcoal first in my firebox and then throw the lit charcoal on top, like you say that you do. They will eventually catch especially when you start adding the wood chunks for the smoking process. I hope your grilling/smoking season is going well Jerry!

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply
    • Yup, that’s typically what I do. I usually start with the new charcoal and then include the old charcoal on top or I could sandwich it as you suggest. All I know is that it certainly prolongs the length of my charcoal to use the old briquettes that are still large enough. Thanks!

      Reply
    • Hi Emma,
      Thanks for your input and for dropping by. Luckily my grills/smoker is on a deck about 10 feet up in the air so the mosquitoes aren’t that bad at altitude. But go down to my yard and they are horrible! That’s a good tip and thank you very much. 🙂

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply
  4. According to the internet. Charcoal only stays hot for an hour. If you mix new and used charcoal, don’t you run the risk of cold spots?

    Reply
    • Hi,
      I wouldn’t think so because you are still using the charcoal chimney starter as you typically would and waiting for all of the charcoal (old and new) to become engulfed. So I cannot imagine there would be cold spots if you wait until flames are shooting out the top of the chimney starter. Thanks for your comment!

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply

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